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Tuesday, June 17, 2008
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ADB offers $130m to tackle food crisis

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is going to provide Bangladesh with food assistance of $130 million as budget support to meet the government's food requirement under its social safety net programmes in next fiscal year.

Earlier, the government sought $200 million from ADB, which is acting as mediator for Bangladesh to get food aid from other development partners so that people don't face crisis.

"Bangladesh is suffering seriously due to the food price hike. So, ADB is providing the quick supports for Bangladeshi people in next July," Kunio Senga, director general of ADB for South Asia, told journalists at the secretariat following a meeting with Finance Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam.

Senga also said they had a meeting with other development partners from Japan, the US, the World Bank and other UN agencies who also may add to the food aid.

Kunio Senga is leading a six-member ADB delegation that arrived in Dhaka on a three day visit on Sunday.

Finance Adviser Mirza Aziz however said the amount of food assistance might increase. "Initially we've got assurance of $130 million but the amount may increase," Mirza Aziz told reporters after the meeting with the ADB delegates.

The adviser also said an ADB assessment mission in this regard has already completed its work after Bangladesh sought the $200 million in aid.

Not only Bangladesh but many people across the world are suffering due to the hike of food grains, Senga said. "Now the government would be able to buy food grains and bring the poor under its safety net programmes," Senga added.

The ADB would also help the government to develop infrastructures in rural areas so that the country can produce more food grains, he added.

The adviser said the ADB also assured of contributing to the climate change fund Bangladesh has already initiated through an allocation of Tk 300 crore in the proposed budget. The ADB assured the government of assistance in different projects related to climate change adaptations, he added.

The ADB also assured Bangladesh of raising concessional lending from Asian Development Fund (ADF) in the next fiscal year to around $370 million from the existing level of $250-260 million, the adviser added.

Mirza Aziz went on to say they had talks on the progress of regional (Bangladesh, India, Bhutan and Nepal) ICT project at ADB funding. In the meeting, they stressed the need for a multilateral cooperation agreement in this regard, he noted.

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